Exxon Valdez Oil Spill


The Exxon Valdez Oil Vessel left the Trans Alaska Pipeline terminal on March 23,1989 at 9:12 pm. William Murphy, was an expert ship's pilot hired to maneuver the 986-foot vessel through the Valdez Narrows. After William Murphy passed through the Valdez Narrows, Captain Joe Hazelwood to over, and by his side was Helmsman Harry Claar and Gregory Cousins.

They were encountered icebergs in the shipping lanes and Captain Joe Hazelwood ordered Helmsman Harry Claar to go around them. Captain Hazelwood left intructions to Gregory Cousins to return into the shipping lanes at a certain point and to Helmsman Robert Kagan was asigned to the wheel of the ship.

At 12:04 am March 24, 1989, Gregory Cousins and Robert Kagan for some unknown reason,didn't make the turn back into the shipping lanes and the ship ran aground on Bligh Reef causing it to spill oil.

Approximately 11 million gallons of oil spilled into the Bligh Reef, which is still considered to have caused the most damage to the enviroment worldwide. The spill covered from the orignal spill in Bligh Reef all the way to village of Chignik on the Alaska Peninsula which is 460 miles!

Because carcasses sink, and actual number on how many animals were effected or killed by the oil is unknown. They have estimated 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales and billions of salmon and herring eggs.

It took 10,000 workers, about 1,000 boats and 100 airplanes and helicopters to clean up the beaches. They worked over 4 summers before they called off the cleaning, still leaving many beaches oiled behind. To clean the beaches they used High pressure cold water treatment with fire hoses as well as Mechanical cleanup which involved heavy equipment. Both treatments washed out the oil to the shore line so it could be sucked up and removed. Many believe that wave action from winter storms did more to clean the beaches than all of the human effort involved.